And So It Begins: Co-Leader of the Maori Party, Tariana Turia, is "red-eyed" by John Ansell as part of his "Colourblind New Zealand" campaign. Mr Ansell has pledged to affix his red eye-patches to all those who adhere to and/or promote the bi-cultural revisioning of New Zealand history. Mr Ansell insists that he is operating independently, but who stands to make best use of the formidable political weapon he is fashioning?
EVERY STUDENT EDITOR dreams of a scoop: a major story that nobody else (especially the “mainstream media”) knows anything about. And that’s exactly what “Treatygate” is – a scoop. Joe Stockman, Editor of the Otago University student magazine, Critic, and his News Editor, Callum Fredric, were first off the mark with a story that has potentially huge ramifications.
In Mr Fredric’s own words: “Critic has obtained documents from controversial race campaigner Louis Crimp, setting out a plan for a $2 million campaign aiming to make New Zealand a ‘colourblind’ (racially neutral) state.”
According to Critic, the man with the plan is John Ansell – mastermind of the National Party’s very-nearly-successful “Iwi/Kiwi” billboard campaign of 2005. If he manages to lay his hands on anything like $2 million, Mr Ansell’s proposed campaign to “expose the 40 year state brainwashing campaign that has distorted the history of Crown-Maori relations” could gain considerable political traction. Whatever you may think of him, Mr Ansell’s credentials as a propagandist are difficult to dispute.
The involvement of Mr Crimp is another matter. The elderly Invercargill millionaire’s only foray into national politics could hardly be described as an unqualified success. The media outlets through which Mr Ansell’s propaganda would, presumably, be communicated to the public might balk at associating themselves with such a controversial duo. There’s also the very real possibility that one, or all, of the Press Council, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Human Rights Commission might intervene to ban or modify messages intended to: “expose the bias [in favour of Maori] and enrage the public”.
Herein lies the difficulty confronting those who remain unconvinced by the bicultural orthodoxy of New Zealand’s political establishment. It has spent the best part of forty years surrounding itself with laws and conventions, tribunals and authorities, to the point where it is virtually unassailable from without. Messrs Ansell and Crimp are, therefore, very likely to discover that any full-scale frontal assault on its institutional walls is easily repelled.
The bicultural consensus is, however, acutely vulnerable to subversion from within. Thinking back over the past eight years, Mr Ansell should ask himself: “Why was my 2005 campaign so effective?” The simple answer is: Dr Don Brash. The mass racial animus that Mr Ansell is so skilful at arousing remains politically accessible – but only to a person bearing unimpeachable establishment credentials. Someone like the former Governor of the Reserve Bank. Someone like the Leader of the Opposition. Someone the opponents of biculturalism can credibly envisage moving into a position of power strong enough to bring the forty-year bicultural consensus crashing down.
Neither Mr Ansell, nor Mr Crimp, is that someone.
There is, however, something already in the political pipeline that just might provide the impetus for a politician bearing unimpeachable establishment credentials to avail himself, or herself, of Mr Ansell’s skills and Mr Crimp’s dollars. Something that could very easily be dubbed “Treatygate”. The report of the Constitutional Advisory Panel, due no later than September 2013, may prove to be a bicultural bridge too far for the Pakeha majority.
Set up at the insistence of the Maori Party following the 2011 General Election, the Constitutional Advisory Panel is dominated by individuals sympathetic to the bicultural cause. Their recommendations are, therefore, likely to be … challenging. Messrs Ansell and Crimp would probably describe them as a ticking time-bomb. But, if so, their casualties will not be found in the National Party.
Indeed, a cynic might say that the National Party could hardly have constructed a situation more certain to rebound to its advantage. Just think about it. A report no National, NZ First or Conservative Party voter will accept, but which no Labour, Green, Mana or Maori Party MP can reject. And who bears a more unimpeachable set of establishment credentials than the Prime Minister of New Zealand?
Get ready for another scoop, Critic. The story exposing National’s 2014 contract with “Treatygate Productions” and anonymous donations totalling two million dollars.
This essay was originally published in The Dominion Post, The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday 17 August 2012.